For Immediate Release
December 4, 2019

Granger Wetlands to Become a Medina County Park District Wildlife Sanctuary

mapThanks to a partnership with the Stream + Wetlands Foundation, a habitat-rich 163-acre site in Granger Township will become Medina County Park District’s newest wildlife sanctuary.

Located east of the intersection of Beachler and Wilbur roads, Granger Wetlands Wildlife Sanctuary is comprised of a 150-acre wetlands mitigation area acquired at no cost from the Stream + Wetlands Foundation — plus an adjacent 13-acre parcel purchased by the park district at 50 percent of its market value, due to the generosity of its owners, who wished to see the land preserved.

The foundation completed restoration of Granger Wetlands in 2013, planting nearly 50,000 trees and shrubs, plus hundreds of pounds of wetland seed mix. Over time, the site will develop into a mix of wetland forest, scrub-shrub wetlands, upland forest, and emergent marsh habitat. While designed to be largely self-sustaining, some ongoing care will be needed, such as controlling non-native invasive plants and maintenance of water level control structures. In addition to the transfer of the property, the Stream + Wetlands Foundation is providing the park district with significant funding to assist with the future stewardship of the wetlands.

According to Granger Historical Society Research Director JoAnn Boruvka, the recorded history of this part of the township goes back more than 200 years. An early hunter reported collecting honey, hops, and cranberries, while the rich soil was later prized for growing potatoes. The site was once home to a horse track that served as an annual picnic spot for the Knights of the Maccabees fraternal organization.

As a wildlife sanctuary, Granger Wetlands will be managed differently than a typical park. Development will be limited to a parking area, natural surface trails, and restrooms. Bicycling, fishing, picnicking, and pets will be prohibited to minimize disturbance of the plants and animals that live there.

Park district Resource Management Specialist Travis Morton noted the wetlands are likely a prime stopover for migrating waterfowl to eat and rest on their journeys to and from their summer nesting areas in the arctic. Future visitors will enjoy the panoramic quality of the landscape — it’s like walking to an amphitheater, Morton said — especially when fall colors are in abundance. A portion of Granger Ditch, a Rocky River tributary, runs through the property.

“It’s exciting to collaborate with the Stream + Wetlands Foundation to preserve this key area within the Rocky River Watershed — and at an incredible savings to the public,” said park district Director Nathan Eppink. “Granger Wetlands Wildlife Sanctuary is sure to become a destination that birders and hikers from around the region will want to explore.”

The site remains closed to visitors. Eppink hopes to open the wildlife sanctuary, possibly on a limited basis, sometime in 2020, which marks Granger Township’s bicentennial and the park district’s 55th anniversary.

The United States has lost nearly 50 percent of its original wetlands. In Ohio, upwards of 90 percent of wetlands have been destroyed. Due to these extensive losses, state and federal regulations have been developed requiring those who plan to impact wetlands to obtain a permit and to compensate for the loss by creating, enhancing, or restoring wetlands in return. Typically, they are required to provide mitigation equal to twice the size of the wetlands authorized to be impacted. Permit applicants include private landowners, Ohio Department of Transportation, county engineers, municipalities, commercial and residential developers, hospitals, schools, airports, utility companies, and others. While they can complete mitigation projects on their own, many choose to use a third party to carry out the work on their behalf. The non-profit Stream + Wetlands Foundation is a third-party provider that specializes in mitigation for impacts to wetlands and streams throughout Ohio.


For Immediate Release
October 16, 2019

Grant Helps Protect Chippewa Lake Headwaters

A 51.25-acre parcel in the Chippewa Lake Watershed has been permanently preserved by Medina County Park District through a $328,219 grant from the Clean Ohio Fund — helping to protect the water quality of the state’s largest natural inland lake and provide future opportunities for the public to connect with nature.

Located on Lake Road north of state Route 162 in Lafayette Township, the property contains headwater streams that flow into Chippewa Lake, which has experienced significant challenges due to Harmful Algal Blooms and flooding. Restoring wetlands and maintaining a buffer of native vegetation along waterways within the 14,000-acre watershed limits run-off and erosion — helping keep pollution, nutrients and sediment from flowing into the 325-acre lake. Not only do streams and wetlands act as nature’s water filters, they also absorb flood water during times of heavy rain, protecting property downstream.

Healthy streams and wetlands lead to more abundant aquatic life, which benefits amphibians, birds, and mammals along the food chain. A survey by park district staff found high-quality stream habitat in the newly preserved site, as well as a notable vernal pool — a seasonal wetland that provides an essential breeding area for salamanders, wood frogs, chorus frogs, and spring peepers.

Twenty-two different tree species were identified in the natural resource inventory, including American beech, red oak, black gum, shagbark hickory, red and sugar maple, black cherry, and eastern cottonwood. Growing beneath the forest canopy are a number of native shrubs, such as winterberry holly, swamp rose, and buttonbush. The ecosystem supports numerous spring ephemeral wildflowers like ramps, trillium, and wood anemone.

First approved by voters across the state in 2000, the Clean Ohio Fund restores, protects, and connects Ohio's important natural and urban places by preserving green space and farmland, improving outdoor recreation, and cleaning up brownfields to encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities.

Because of its natural diversity and key location within the Chippewa Lake Watershed, the Lake Road property scored well in Clean Ohio’s competitive methodology, said park district Director Nathan D. Eppink.

“There’s an old saying that no matter where we live, we all live downstream,” Eppink said. “Medina County Park District has long been committed to preserving and restoring natural areas critical to the health of our local watersheds. This grant leverages local tax dollars to allow us to continue that important work for the benefit of Medina County and beyond.”


For Immediate Release
August 30, 2019

Water Level at Hubbard Valley Lake to be Lowered for Dam Inspection

GUILFORD TWP. -- The last time anyone had a good look inside the flood-control structure at Hubbard Valley Park was, likely, when the dam was built there 40 years ago. Thanks to new laser technology, Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District soon will have a 3-D image of the interior of the water flow system, helping ensure the future integrity of the dam and spillway.

Hubbard Valley Park’s 21-acre lake was constructed as one of eight flood-control sites in the Chippewa Subdistrict of MWCD -- following a series of 20th-century floods that wreaked havoc on Ohio. The lake and spillway were designed to collect and hold back water to protect downstream property and communities during times of heavy rain and snow melt.

Medina County Park District opened Hubbard Valley Park in 1981. It’s home to the only dam in the Chippewa Subdistrict that doubles as a park -- offering the public the twin bonus of flood protection plus a natural recreational area for hiking, fishing, boating, and more. While MWCD manages the dam and spillway, the park district maintains the balance of the park.

In order to examine the interior of the flood-control structure, the lake’s water level will be significantly lowered, beginning Sept. 3. David Kopchak, Chippewa Project Coordinator with MWCD, will open a control valve on a 16-inch drain pipe that extends 20-30 feet into the lake. He’ll carefully monitor the water level with the intention of leaving a large enough pool in the lake for fish and other aquatic life.

That will allow the concrete riser at the south end of the lake, as well as the 42-inch-wide outlet pipe that runs for 236 feet under the 55-foot-tall dam, to dry out. The contractor, GPD Group, will use a laser to scan the inside of the riser and pipe. The laser provides more exact data than a camera and is safer than sending a person inside to make a visual inspection. The exact measurements produced by the laser will provide a baseline for future scans, allowing MWCD to detect even the most minute changes in the structure that may telegraph bigger problems down the road.

The work is weather-dependent, but the entire project should be completed within about a week, Kopchak said. Hubbard Valley Lake then will be allowed to refill.

For more on Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, visit To find out about programs and recreational opportunities at Hubbard Valley Park and other Medina County Park District sites, go to